It is July 4, 2020
I heard most of President Trump’s Mt. Rushmore speech last night. Perhaps you did, too. Even if not, I am sure you are aware of his thematic approach that the current culture is destroying American history.
Certainly there are those who endorse that racially dividing history, even mouthing praise for Andrew Jackson. Yep, that’s what freedom’s all about.
In all this…how history happens in the future…that is, how WE create the history of our day. Which is a way of speaking our values. OUR values this day.
This morning that theme, creating the history of today, I went to 9th and Fremont in Portland, Oregon.
Let me explain.
On that corner I was baptized and confirmed and ordained. Baptism in 1940, confirmation n 1953 and ordination in 1966.
The building on the corner had a name: Zion Congregational Church. Formed by my ancestors, immigrants from Nordka, Russia. Most of them had been born in Germany, then went to Nordka along the Volga River. They went because they were promised no conscription, land to farm and religious freedom.
Before the 19th Century gave way to the 20th all bets were off. They became immigrants again, including both sets of grandparents, the Miller’s and the Schnell’s. Somehow made it to the United States in cattle steerage boats, then got across our country to Portland. Many settled near 9th and Fremont, across the street from Irving Park.
Early in my life, the church, as you can anticipate, was “very German.” The English sermon was shorter than the Auf Deutsch sermon. And in truth, although I cannot document, but it seemed to me if you weren’t a Schnell, Miller, Schmidt, Spady, Deines, Krieger, Klein…well, you get the idea. Sehr Deutsch.
Then, sociology took over. None of the children or grandchildren, who aged, stayed. They left for newer land. With that, the new residents were not German, let alone Caucasian.
The meeting was held, “What should we do?” with the theme pushed to change venue. Called sociologically “White Flight.”
My mother, God bless and rest her soul, believed with clarity and passion the congregation should “stay where we are, bringing value to our new residents.”
The vote, as you can appreciate, didn’t agree with her or my father.
I think of that today. My mother. My father. Their vote. But, so much more. Their commitment that race should not divide…or be ignored. Rather, EACH person is a child of God and each of us, yep, you and I, are called to create history today.
Not to praise Andrew Jackson. Rather. To see how we can be the “presence of the holy,” no matter where or how we are.
On this day flags will wave. On this day the skies will sparkle with light, flashing all around. But. May it also be on this day that we think more than INDEPENDENCE. May we be committed to interdependence, that we each count. Happy Interdependence Day!